Monday, March 19, 2007

Wish I'd Written That...

By Judith

"If [Theodore] Dreiser was a genius, as so many critics of the twenties and thirties devoutly believed, then he was an idoit savant, capable of creating unforgettable characters on paper but devoid of any other gift save an uncanny knack for persuading women to have sex with him. Even the staunchest of his supporters would be reduced to despair by the impenetrable stupidity with which he dabbled in the great political issues of his time. Mencken spoke of his 'insatiable appetite for the not true,' while a more recent critic, who praised him as 'America's greatest novelist,' went on to describe him as a 'bore, crank, celery-juice drinker, and member of the select company of morons who believed that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was part Jewish,' an indictment that would be funnier were it even slightly exaggerated. Ultimately his passion for politics killed his art stone dead. He spent the last twenty years of his life snuffling out causes like a truffle-hunting pig, and never wrote another readable word."

Terry Teachout, The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken

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